Budget passenger carrier SpiceJet on Saturday refuted reports that it has been asked by the regulator to refund bookings made beyond 30 days.
“This is absolutely incorrect and is causing a lot of confusion amongst travel agents and passengers. There has been NO such notification. There is no such requirement,” the airline was quoted as saying in a statement.
The aviation regulator is said to have cracked the whip on the airline after it said that as part of its cost-cutting initiative it would only operate 22-24 aircraft, down from 35 planes which were in service till two months ago.
Reports have surfaced which suggest that the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has sought financial and operational information from the airline. The DGCA is said to have asked the airline to furnish data regarding bookings and its plans to operate a truncated fleet.
It has taken into account the number of allocated flying slots given to the airline and directed it to make immediate refunds on cancelled flights.
However, DGCA officials did not comment on the type of measures it has taken against the airline or the information it has sought from the budget passenger carrier.
“We are looking into the matter and are in touch with the its management. Data regarding fleet reduction and cancellation of flights are being investigated,” a senior DGCA official said.
Meanwhile, the airline said that it has adequate pilots to manage its fleet and that with the current aircraft in operation, the average flying hours per pilot have been reduced.
The development comes amidst a slew of reports that the airline is facing a financial meltdown and will not be able to continue operations due to an exodus of pilots and mounting debt.
The airline recently reported a Rs 310 crore loss for the quarter ended September, down from the Rs 560 crore loss in the corresponding period of last fiscal.
The airline had also reduced its fleet size and is now operating only 26 aircraft from a fleet size of 35 earlier this year.
Even the company’s auditors SR Batliboi & Associates have doubted the airline’s ability to stay afloat.
Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju said on Thursday that the current business environment is tough for doing aviation business in India and that the current regulations are not helping the sector.
“We have to focus on removing bottlenecks for the sector and make it sustainable again,” Raju said, adding that the latest news about the losses made by budget carrier SpiceJet was like getting a ‘heart attack’.